We explore top tips and tricks to help you stress less in the kitchen.

Some people are kitchen gods or goddesses who were seemingly born with 5-star gourmet skills. Others could use a bit of help occasionally. If you’re one of the others, read on!

Potential kitchen disasters can be dodged with a few crafty cooking hacks. If your hand slipped and you over-salted the soup, add raw potato wedges to the pot for around 15 minutes. They will absorb the excess salt. Underestimated the heat of the chillies you so gaily threw into the curry? Take the eye-watering factor out of over-spiced dishes by stirring in a few spoons of yogurt or sour cream. And if your stew or casserole has developed an unappetising layer of fat on top, skim off the grease with an ice cube.

When heating liquids on the stovetop, place a wooden spoon across the top of your pot to prevent it from boiling over. If things really heat up, you can quickly extinguish small grease or electrical fires with a generous sprinkling of baking soda. (Never try to put out flaming oil with water – smother the flames with a thick towel, blanket or newspaper.)

For fuss-free food preparation use an ice-cream scoop to easily deseed fruits and tricky vegetables like pumpkin or butternut. Tossing boiled potatoes into an ice bath will also take the pain out of peeling them. In addition, avoid a tear fest by chopping refrigerated onions, while holding a slice of bread in your mouth! And if you don’t want your hands smelling of onion or garlic, rub them with a stainless-steel utensil.

There are various ways to keep fruit and veggies fresher for longer. Tomatoes can be preserved by storing them stem down, at room temperature but out of sunlight. Greens can be kept crisp by refrigerating them in a sealed plastic bag with a dry paper towel. Bananas can be prevented from spoiling by wrapping the stems with plastic wrap, and cut avocados or other fruit can be kept from going brown by drizzling lemon juice over the cut surface.

Putting a slice of bread into an airtight container of cookies, muffins or biscuits will keep baked goods at their best, and a piece of celery in a bag of bread will keep it fresher for longer. Adding a pinch of salt to an opened container of milk will also prolong its life.

Dipping your knife into a jug of hot water every so often makes icing easier and less messy.

There are a few golden rules for using this handy little appliance. First, never put metal containers or utensils into a microwave. Use glass or plastic, and if you aren’t sure whether a container is microwave-safe, don’t use it. Next, always cover the food you are cooking to prevent excess mess. Also, when cooking anything that can be stirred do so – the frequency will depend on the particular food, but for instance when scrambling eggs stir every 30 seconds until done to your liking.

Most importantly, remember that water that is overheated in a microwave can ‘explode’ in your face! The surface might not even be boiling, so always heat water carefully and exercise caution when removing from the microwave.

Freezing food helps prevent wastage and saves you money. For example, you can preserve herbs by freezing them in an ice tray with olive oil or water. Leftover wine can also be frozen and used for cooking – and frozen stock, bones, vegetable juices and offcuts all add flavour and nutrients to soups or stews.

Whether you’re looking to be a more capable cook or you just want to cut down on wastage, these handy hacks will help you achieve kitchen bliss… without the bother!

Text Julia Lamberti-Morreira

20 HANDY KITCHEN HACKS 20 HANDY KITCHEN HACKS Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on October 29, 2020 Rating: 5
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